The developer behind a proposed multi-millon pound hotel at the Tillie and Henderson site said he recognises its importance to Derry and wants to build as soon as possible.
Rajesh Rana, director of Andras House, told the ‘Journal’ the firm was trying to satisfy pre-construction conditions attached to the 139 bed hotel.
Specifically, it needs to assuage Department of Infrastructure (DfI) concerns over the stability of Abercorn Road.
DfI insists the “proposed hotel will require retention structures for both Abercorn Road and Tillie’s Brae”.
Mr. Rana accepts this, but is seeking a relaxation of conditions that he hopes will allow construction to start sooner rather than later.
“We are currently working to satisfy pre-commencement planning conditions to allow a start on site for this development,” he said.
The hotelier needs to satisfy DfI development control engineers that construction will not undermine either Abercorn Road or Tillie’s Brae, which runs alongside the Craigavon Bridge.
When planning permission was granted in December 2014 one of the conditions was that before building work got underway “any highway structure/retaining wall” needed to be built in accordance with strict design standards for roads and bridges. Now, with just over three months left until planning permission expires, Andras has asked for this to be relaxed.
It has lodged a fresh “variation of condition” application to allow work to get under way immediately and for the strict standards to apply to “any highway structure/retaining wall” only “within or up to 6m of the highway boundary”.
On Tuesday DfI Roads, Western Division, responded: “DfI Roads appreciates that we can’t reasonably expect that the structures and temporary works within the road boundary to Abercorn Road and Tillie’s Brae be both designed and constructed prior to commencement but a proposal was reasonably required from the Agent now in the form of a submission for Approval in Principle (AiP) on how design and works will be approached for the temporary work and permanent structures as the development affects the stability of both Abercorn Road and Tillie’s Brae.”
Mr. Rana told the ‘Journal’ he was hopeful these issues can yet be resolved.
“We recognise the importance of this site to the city and we are working to get this site developed,” said the Belfast businessman.
Time, of course, is of the essence.
Planning permission for the hotel at the former Tillie and Henderson factory which was demolished in 2003, expires in December.
A Department for Infrastructure (DfI) spokesman said: “DfI Roads has been consulted on this planning application by Derry City and Strabane District Council (DC&SDC) and has provided comments on the submission.
“Due to the significant ground level difference between the Tillie and Henderson Development Site and the adjacent public road, the Department has raised issues that require the applicant to demonstrate that in varying the original condition, it will not adversely affect the stability of the public road.
“The Department recognises the significance of this development and is continuing to work closely with the Council and the applicant to conclude this application in a timely manner.”